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Flooding in SE QLD and NE NSW: May 1996
by Michael Bath

Major flooding occurred in many regions of north eastern NSW and south eastern Queensland during the first week of May. The worst affected areas were the Brisbane metropolitan area and the Darling Downs, and in NSW, towns on the Clarence River, particularly Grafton. Major roads were cut, including the Pacific Highway near Maclean and near Murwillumbah. Inland areas also received copious rainfalls, with moderate flooding on some rivers - in fact the first signs of the developing rain event were from some heavy storm rainfall in the Upper Western district of NSW on the 30th April.

A strong blocking high in the southern Tasman Sea developed at the beginning of the month and directed moist E to NE winds into NSW and Qld. A series of upper air disturbances, troughs and coastal low pressure systems triggered the widespread heavy rainfalls. In the hills behind the Gold Coast, a few centres recorded over 1000 mm of rain in 7 days to 9am 7th May. Heaviest 7 day falls in NSW included 582 mm at Dorrigo and 575 mm at Drake. Gales occurred in coastal areas as a result of a strengthening low off the SE Queensland coast during the 1st to the 3rd of May.

The widespread nature of the heavy rainfalls and its persistence can be shown in the following list of 24 hour rainfalls in NSW. Only falls of 50 mm or more in a 24 hour period are shown, and from only the official daily recording rainfall stations that reported.

Tuesday 30th April 1996
81mmBarrigunUpper Western
98mmEnngoniaUpper Western
82mmFords BridgeUpper Western

Wednesday 1st May 1996
52mmDrakeNorthern Tablelands
93mmTweed HeadsNorthern Rivers
98mmMurwillumbahNorthern Rivers
50mmBallina ApNorthern Rivers
59mmMullumbimbyNorthern Rivers
58mmNimbinNorthern Rivers
58mmBellingenMid North Coast

Thursday 2nd May 1996
65mmCollarenabriUpper Western
64mmBoomiNorth West Plains
60mmMungindiNorth West Plains
70mmNynganCentral West Plains
111mmDrakeNorthern Tablelands
115mmTabulamNorthern Tablelands
115mmTabulam MuirneNorthern Tablelands
78mmBallina ApNorthern Rivers
90mmCasino AWSNorthern Rivers
70mmCasinoNorthern Rivers
96mmGraftonNorthern Rivers
57mmKyogleNorthern Rivers
84mmLismoreNorthern Rivers
96mmMullumbimbyNorthern Rivers
98mmMurwillumbahNorthern Rivers
65mmNimbinNorthern Rivers
76mmTweed HeadsNorthern Rivers
80mmWhiporieNorthern Rivers
75mmWoodburnNorthern Rivers
64mmYambaNorthern Rivers
53mmBellingenMid North Coast
54mmCoffs HarbourMid North Coast
68mmMacksvilleMid North Coast
92mmNambucca HdsMid North Coast
66mmComboyneMid North Coast
52mmMt. SeaviewMid North Coast
50mmTareeMid North Coast
50mmWauchopeMid North Coast

Friday 3rd May 1996
155mmDrakeNorthern Tablelands
52mmGowan BraeNorthern Tablelands
79mmPoint LookoutNorthern Tablelands
145mmTabulamNorthern Tablelands
180mmTabulam MuirneNorthern Tablelands
63mmBlackheathCentral Tablelands
76mmKatoombaCentral Tablelands
58mmCape ByronNorthern Rivers
112mmCasinoNorthern Rivers
135mmCasino AWSNorthern Rivers
141mmGraftonNorthern Rivers
61mmLismoreNorthern Rivers
61mmMullumbimbyNorthern Rivers
102mmMurwillumbahNorthern Rivers
174mmWhiporieNorthern Rivers
98mmWoodburnNorthern Rivers
132mmYambaNorthern Rivers
122mmBellbrookMid North Coast
181mmBellingenMid North Coast
152mmCoffs HarbourMid North Coast
187mmDorrigoMid North Coast
110mmKempseyMid North Coast
112mmMacksvilleMid North Coast
94mmNambucca HdsMid North Coast
72mmSmoky CapeMid North Coast
96mmComboyneMid North Coast
152mmMt. SeaviewMid North Coast
77mmWauchopeMid North Coast

Saturday 4th May 1996
55mmBourke ApUpper Western
97mmBrewarrinaUpper Western
61mmNynganCentral West Plains
63mmDrakeNorthern Tablelands
73mmKatoombaCentral Tablelands
65mmMt. SeaviewMid North Coast
144mmDorrigoMid North Coast
55mmDarkes ForestIllawarra

Sunday 5th May 1996
65mmNynganCentral West Plains
75mmDrakeNorthern Tablelands
63mmGowan BraeNorthern Tablelands
53mmKatoombaCentral Tablelands
50mmGoulburn AWSSouthern Tablelands
88mmDorrigoMid North Coast
67mmDarkes ForestIllawarra
56mmMoss ValeIllawarra

Monday 6th May 1996
51mmWoolbrookNorth West Slopes
84mmDrakeNorthern Tablelands
58mmTabulam MuirneNorthern Tablelands
59mmTia (Highrent)Northern Tablelands
55mmWattlegroveNorthern Tablelands
51mmCharlotte PassSouthern Tablelands
51mmThredboSouthern Tablelands
75mmTidbinbillaSouthern Tablelands
78mmComboyneMid North Coast
50mmAraluenSouth Coast
60mmBraidwoodSouth Coast
54mmMiltonSouth Coast
71mmNaroomaSouth Coast

Tuesday 7th May 1996
86mmBallinaNorthern Rivers
225mmCape ByronNorthern Rivers
51mmCasinoNorthern Rivers
55mmGraftonNorthern Rivers
60mmKyogleNorthern Rivers
66mmLismoreNorthern Rivers
139mmMullumbimbyNorthern Rivers
58mmMurwillumbahNorthern Rivers
68mmNimbinNorthern Rivers
57mmTweed HeadsNorthern Rivers
75mmWoodburnNorthern Rivers
117mmYambaNorthern Rivers
57mmCasino AWSNorthern Rivers
59mmBellingenMid North Coast
88mmCoffs HarbourMid North Coast
57mmDorrigoMid North Coast
80mmKempseyMid North Coast
61mmMacksvilleMid North Coast
90mmNambucca HdsMid North Coast
77mmSmoky CapeMid North Coast
58mmLaurietonMid North Coast
103mmPort MacquarieMid North Coast
66mmWauchopeMid North Coast

Synoptic Charts

Synoptic Charts provided by the Bureau of Meteorology

MSL Analysis 4 pm Eastern Standard Time

MSL Analysis 4 pm Eastern Standard Time

MSL Analysis 1 pm Eastern Standard Time

MSL Analysis 10 pm Eastern Standard Time

MSL Analysis 4 pm Eastern Standard Time

MSL Analysis 4 pm Eastern Standard Time

Document: 9605-01.htm
Updated: 6th April, 2004
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